Investigating offering of vegetables by caregivers of preschool age children

Background: Research into the methods which caregivers use to encourage children to eat vegetables is limited, with minimal evidence about what the barriers are to offering these foods. Vegetable consumption in children is typically low and so gaining information on these factors is vital in order to develop further caregiver-centred interventions to increase children’s vegetable consumption. This study aimed to investigate the methods caregivers use to offer vegetables to preschool aged children, as well as the factors which influence whether and how caregivers present vegetables to their children. Method: Seventeen caregivers with a preschool aged child participated in focus groups to assess these questions. Results: Thematic analysis indicated that caregivers use a range of methods to offer their children vegetables, with these methods falling into three broad categories: behavioural/active methods, passive methods, and food manipulations. Influences on caregiver offering which emerged from the focus groups formed four categories: information, cost, parent factors, and child factors. Conclusions: Together with large scale quantitative data, this information can be used to shape future interventions aiming to increase children’s vegetable intake as well as to tailor advice given to caregivers striving to achieve a healthful diet for their children.